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What is the Process for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

June 02, 2014

What is the Process for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What is the process for filing a personal injury lawsuit?

If you’ve ever been injured in an accident, you may have played out a scenario like this in your head:

You know the accident that caused your injury wasn’t your fault. In fact, you’re quite certain someone else is at fault. You want to be a forgiving person and never thought of yourself as the kind of person who would sue someone else. But now, you find yourself incurring medical bills, missing work and struggling with the emotional stress caused by the event. You feel like you’re out of options, except for one – file a lawsuit to recover some of the damages incurred because of the accident. Even after making that decision, you really don’t want to involve a lawyer.

So how do you do it yourself?

Having spent more than 25 years as a personal injury attorney, I am asked that frequently, and I always give the same answer:

Don’t try to file a lawsuit on your own.

Attorneys go to law school, take licensing tests and practice for years to understand the legal system so you don’t have to. But with just a little bit of general information, you can understand your options, whether you decide to go it alone, or speak with a lawyer and make the most of their services.

Lawsuit vs. Claim Pre-Litigation

For background, let’s discuss the difference between a lawsuit and a pre-litigation claim. When someone is injured, and not represented by counsel, they typically gather their medical records, figure out their financial damages, make a settlement demand to the claims adjuster, and try to negotiate a resolution.

This is not the filing of a lawsuit. This is the negotiation of a claim pre-litigation.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit is the act of physically filing a complaint with the appropriate court. In Tennessee, in a personal injury action, with few exceptions, this must be done within one year of the date of the accident.

Determining Where to File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit in Tennessee

To file a complaint in a personal injury action, you have two primary options. You can file in either General Sessions Court or Circuit Court.

General Sessions Court – Pros and Cons

The Verdict : As an attorney, I would never file a claim for personal injury benefits in General Sessions Court. Only individuals without representation use this avenue.

Circuit Court – Pros and Cons

The Verdict : This is a more involved course of action that requires legal expertise, but it will provide the opportunity to be made whole for loss related to your injuries.

Hiring vs. Consulting With an Attorney

If you feel like your situation does not permit hiring an attorney to file a lawsuit on your behalf, PLEASE, at least consult with an attorney. Almost all personal injury attorneys will meet with you for a free initial consultation, so there is no reason not to take advantage of that opportunity. To fail to do so would be like turning down a free consultation from a surgeon and trying to remove your own appendix.

“Fighting for your rights” Contact David Weissman and the law firm of Raybin & Weissman for a confidential consultation of your case today at 615-256-6666.